Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham’s Europa League demolition of Fiorentina shows they can cope without Harry Kane.
Kane was left out of the squad against the Italians for the first time this season as he recovers from a broken nose and he is not certain to return in time for Sunday, when Spurs take on Swansea.
Tottenham made light of their star striker’s absence as Ryan Mason, Erik Lamela and an own-goal from Gonzalo Rodriguez sealed a 3-0 win at White Hart Lane and a 4-1 triumph on aggregate.
Pochettino was delighted with his side’s march into the last 16 and believes the display showed the strength in depth of his squad.
“Harry Kane is very important for us but today it was impossible for him to be available,” Pochettino said.
“We always speak about the team, about our power in the squad. It’s for that reason that we work hard to be competitive in every competition.
“On this occasion I am proud for the players and for their effort.”
Tottenham were beaten by Fiorentina at this stage of the competition last year but the Italians, who sit third in Serie A, caused few problems for the hosts.
Gary Neville’s Valencia, four-time winners Sevilla and German giants Borussia Dortmund all lie in wait in Friday’s draw for the last 16, while Manchester United and Liverpool are also potential opponents.
Pochettino said: “The performance was fantastic. The job is done and now we are in the next round, as was our objective before the game.
“The competition is done for now and we need to be ready for Sunday.
“Our supporters might believe the Premier League is more important. But we respect both. We need to try to win every game.”
The only blemish on an otherwise perfect evening for the North Londoners saw Dele Alli pick up his third yellow card of the competition, which means the midfielder is banned for the first leg of the next round.
Alli was booked for diving by Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan in the second half and Pochettino was disappointed with the decision.
“I think like you, like all the people in the stadium – it was not a yellow card,” Pochettino said.
“I think it was a foul for us, but sometimes the referee gets it wrong. We will miss him for the first leg but we are a strong team.”
Fiorentina coach disappointed
Fiorentina boss Paulo Sousa said before the match Spurs were one of the best sides in Europe and he paid tribute to his opponents’ performance.
“Clearly I am extremely disappointed,” said the former QPR, Swansea and Leicester boss. “But I’m very aware that this is an improving competition. The quality of the opposition is improving every year.
“I believe Spurs are in the top five Europe at the moment in terms of their ability and the quality of their play.”